Chicago Cubs: Is there a starter on the radar this winter?
By no means is it outrageous to be thinking about which players could be moved, or how those transactions could impact a lineup that was the second-worst in the National League in terms of contact rate. The Cubs were an incredibly frustrating offensive unit in both 2018 and 2019, and most fans tend to focus on offensive output.
But all of the talk about the young core has detracted from the looming need for a premium arm in the starting rotation. After all, the Washington Nationals just proved that you can be quite successful with a deep group of starters.
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This is not to suggest that the Cubs should pursue Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg. Tom Ricketts has all but assured that payroll will not increase, and even a hypothetical trade involving Quintana or others is unlikely to create enough flexibility to sign either of those two aces.
However, someone like Zack Wheeler would be an instant upgrade for Chicago’s staff. Or, if the Cubs cannot free up space for Wheeler, what about a two-year deal for Hyun-Jin Ryu?
Some fear that Madison Bumgarner is over the hill, but his peripherals were still excellent last season. Plus, he is only 30 years old, and he would give the Cubs another fiery leader in the clubhouse. Is the three-time champion another possibility?
The Cubs cannot rely on “internal improvements” in the rotation this year. They are already losing Hamels to free agency. The writing may be on the wall for Quintana and Lester is in the twilight of his career.
Not to mention, they simply do not have the prospect panoply capable of making immediate contributions in 2020.
If Theo hopes to build a winner next season while establishing a little bit of continuity, then he needs to go out and add an impact starter, irrespective of all the outside noise.